Secrets of Manga #14: How to Create Something to Convey, Part 3

It’s been a while, but here is the long-awaited next chapter of the “Secrets of Manga” series.


Last time, we talked about how having “something to convey” was necessary in order to draw manga. But how do I come up with something to convey? Normally, I just use things that stick in your mind, or my feelings on certain things. I read books and do research to add meat to the idea, and then I’m finished.


Do you still remember what we talked about? If not, you can review the last article here.


Even people who appear to just be living in a daze, without giving much thought to anything, have to have feelings about certain things. “Work sucks.” “I don’t want to go to school.” “I wish that girl liked me.” “I want to go and eat at that restaurant again.”


What you want to express = what you want to convey to someone.


Today, we’ll be talking how I came up with something to convey in “New Give My Regards to Black Jack.”


Before drawing this, I had a lot of trouble with my editor, and I wasn’t sure whether I should really just suppress my own feelings and do as they said, or whether I should work hard to push my own desires forward. It was easier just to do as they said, but my self-consciousness kept getting in the way.


During that period, I read a lot of medical books, and wondered if all this frustration wasn’t the very thing that I wanted to convey.


“The main character goes to the urology department next to continue his training. This becomes a story about a dialysis patient with diabetes who gets a live kidney transplant. This patient is a friend of the main character’s, and has been suffering with Type 1 diabetes since childhood. The main character thinks about donating his own kidney, but multiple ethical problems stand in his way. Yet he still wants to donate his kidney. Is it egotism? Should transplant medicine be outlawed?”


This is what I wanted to convey in this manga.


But it’s merely a mold. It’s important, but it only becomes clearer after meat is added to it. Terayama Shuuji-san was the one who said “Throw away your books and go into town,” right? There’s no need to throw away your books, but after you read them, it’s probably a good idea to go out and collect data.


Anyone can collect data. There are certain things you can’t do unless you belong to the media, as well as if you don’t have a publisher backing you. Mangaka included. But it all just really depends on how invested you are in it.


I began by looking up contact information for university hospitals on the internet, then sent out mails to ten of them. I apologized for my rudeness in contacting them so suddenly, then introduced myself and asked if they would let me collect data there. See? Anyone can do it.


Of course, none of them agreed to let me do it. I was able to talk to one place on the phone, but they told me “We don’t deal with manga at our hospital.”


During my serialization, I always thought about the possibility of switching magazines, so I never gave out the magazine name when I was collecting data, and always did all the work myself. “I don’t need a publisher to back me to do this,” I thought. That was when I realized just how cold the world could be to someone who isn’t attached to a publishing company.


“Hi, I’m a mangaka named Sato Shuho.” Yep. No one cares.


Still, it didn’t mean that it was totally impossible. I returned to the internet and checked for places that allowed study tours. I learned that one NPO allowed student visits, so I immediately sent them a mail and went to collect data. I wrote a list of questions in a notebook and took some rice crackers with me as a gift.


I listened to them, found out the differences between what was written in my books and the real world, and started to understand transplant medicine in a different way.


However, I wasn’t able to see actual transplants or talk with patients that had received them. I had reached another dead end. I did learn that there existed groups of people who had received transplants, so I sent them a mail too, but I got no reply.


After more researching, I found that these groups put on education events for other patients and media. So, after learning that university hospitals also put on demonstrations for patient study and the media, I went to visit all of them.


I gave my card to every person I met there, but I didn’t find any chance to do any real research.


See? Anyone can do it.


I lived in Tokyo, so I had limited myself to only research opportunities in Eastern Japan, and I started to think that this had been a bad idea. And so, one day, I tried going to an event geared toward patients thinking about organ transplants that was happening in Western Japan. It was put on by an organ transplant organization, and a doctor came to give a lecture, so I listened to him and then went to the meet-and-greet afterwards and gave him my card. I also met a transplant coordinator there. Meetings like this always happen suddenly.


See? If you just keep it up, anyone can get this far.


Finally, I had gotten some real research done, so I contacted my editor for the first time and went to go watch some surgery. The doctors who I contacted them were very happy to help out, and even let me interview their patients. I went to Western Japan many times during that period to do interviews and watch surgery.


Meanwhile, I met with the transplant coordinator. This person had been a nurse before becoming a coordinator, and as they told me about the problems they had experienced while working as a nurse, they decided to put on a round-table discussion with their old co-workers, so I went to that too.


This time I traveled to Kyushu. There, I was introduced to a doctor from the university hospital where the coordinator used to work, so I decided to interview him. At the nurse round-table discussion, they talked about romantic relationships with the doctors, so I decided to put that into the manga as well.


During this, they asked me if I would draw some art for pamphlets, so I did it free of charge, of course. I had them introduced me to everyone they could, and I did whatever I could to help. Whenever I went to do research, I brought rice crackers with me, and always made sure to schedule the next appointment. And that’s basically how it went. Money never came up once.


The doctor whose surgery I studied also introduced me to another doctor who approached transplant medicine from a different point of view, so I went to go interview him as well.


He was in Hiroshima. He was proactive about working in organ transplants between unrelated people into his work, and had stopped working as an insurance doctor. That’s where I learned that people had differing opinions on transplant medicine, and that the practice was not monolithic.


That doctor introduced me to a dialysis hospital, and told me that organ transplants were not always the best solution. I met patients who had Type I diabetes and went to the houses of families of people who had decided to become organ donors in the event of brain death. Whenever I met someone I would be introduced to someone else, so I ended up jumping all over the country — on my own dime, of course.


Whenever a brain death transplant happened, the organ transplant network would put on a media event with the Ministry of Labor, Health, and Welfare, so I managed to get myself a special pass inside, and then all of a sudden, I was listening to the chairman of the organ transplant society speak.


I think in terms of total research sessions, I did about 50. See? Anyone can do it.


While researching, my vision for the manga changed a lot. More and more ideas just kept pouring out, and I was busy just trying to slim it all down. In any case, once I had gotten that far, the idea of not having anything to convey had become an impossibility.


I started to feel like I was no longer an amateur at this. I had put out a semi-hit and almost become an author of medium standing. But what was I supposed to do next?


Music-wise, it was like a new band who first few albums had been hits. Once their fourth or fifth album comes up, they’re faced with a choice. Do they keep going along the path that they know will sell, or do they start to experiment with their interests a little?


Then, I remembered that egotism was one of my themes. In the end, I decided to lower the emphasis on business, and focus more on how to seriously confront my readers. The more I do research, the more I get overwhelmed with that sort of stuff, but after the research is done, it’s best to drop it all temporarily. I go back to square one, remember what it is that I originally wanted to say, and then let my imagination run free.


That’s how I come up with something to convey.


And that’s pretty much all I wanted to say with this series.


Artists start by coming up with something to convey. Then they create changes from start to finish in order to frame this idea in a story. Up to this point, the process may be exactly the same for manga and novels.


In order to express an idea well in manga, it needs good panel structure and rhythm. Readers’ eyes need to be guided, and dialog needs to be created so that the idea can be conveyed to the readers without any stress. I imagine this is how most of the manga you read is created. All authors have varying methods, but I think the overall process is pretty similar.


Learning how manga is made makes manga more fun to read. Next time you read manga, try and think about what I’ve written here as you read through. The manga may start to look different to you.


For now, the “Secrets of Manga” series is over. If I get an idea or come up with something else I want to say, I may write a continuation. Thank you very much for sticking with me all the way through.

Secrets of Manga #13 – How to Create Something to Convey, Part 2

Welcome to the 13th installment of Secrets of Manga.


Today we’re going to continue talking about “how to create something you want to convey.” In order to convey something, first you need something you want to express. Otherwise you’ll never be able to convey anything. But coming up with something you want to express is easier said than done, isn’t it? People draw manga to convey things, and I bet there are many of you out there who question whether there really is a method to come up with something to convey. You either have it, or you don’t.


Most people, when they first want to draw manga, think “I want to draw an entertaining manga.” They sit down in front of the paper and think “Alright, now what’s interesting?” In the end, they come to the conclusion that they have no idea what really is or isn’t interesting and give up.


“Expression” is defined in the dictionary as ‘a psychological or emotional thing made subjective through outer or sensory manifestation. Or, a facial movement, bodily movement, word, symbol, or structure that acts as that manifestation.’


A smile is an outer manifestation of “enjoyment.” If someone is sad, they express that emotion through crying. So if you want to express something fun, then you just need to draw fun manga. If you want to express something sad, then you need to draw sad manga.


Since I’ve become a mangaka, I’ve had a lot of different experiences. Fun experiences, painful experiences, discord with publishers about due dates, arguments with managers about payments, so I often found myself asking the questions: “What is a job?” and “What does it mean to draw manga?”


That’s not all, though.


“It’s so hard, and I hardly make any money, so why am I drawing manga? Maybe I should just quit? But then why do I have this urge that tells me to keep drawing? Is it bad to want to make something you like into a full-time job? Isn’t it because I like it that I can work so hard? What is a job?”


I suppose any working member of society has thoughts like these, but that’s basically what I think about day to day. Most of the people I met midst my cruel struggle to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of the manga industry have all disappeared. As I watch other mangaka get used up and thrown away, I wonder what the point to all this is, and I sometimes feel very nihilistic. But in the end, I come to the conclusion that there is purpose in going on.


Here’s a page from chapter 25 of Tokko Island, which we used when discussing how to create a story.





“You’re the one person I want to keep alive. I’m going after you. Sekiguchi… forgive me for throwing away the life you desperately tried to protect. This is the only way for me to prove… that I’m valuable enough for you to have risked your life on me.”


This is the page in which I expressed my own feelings. This is what I wanted to express. Instead of putting my opinions about the hypocrisies of work into direct words, I channeled them through the mouth of this soldier.


It’s fine to express things you often think about. You don’t need any lofty ideals or unique theories.


“He asked me to just ‘make it look normal,’ but what does normal even mean?” Or “I don’t understand what fashion is.” Or “That girl at the convenience store is really cute.” I’m sure you all have your own questions and things you want to say. After you’ve decided on one, just go out to collect data and then make it into something.


But, for example, if you say something like “I want to draw a manga about a world of medieval knights,” that’s different. You aren’t conveying anything there. Why not? Because there isn’t any psychological or emotional output. If you put some joy, anger, doubt, or some other kind of emotion in with that, then you’re conveying something.


Whew. I let the intro get a little too long again.


Anyway — what you want to convey should already be inside you. First you need to work to find it. Everyone should have at least ten to twenty detailed things they’d like to convey. You don’t need to line them up. Just let them float around in your head. Still, that won’t be enough to create a manga.


Next, you need to collect data. Go to a library and read a book, watch a movie, or go to a museum. That’s where you need to start from. As you start reading it, keep the idea of what you want to convey in your mind. Gradually, the data you collect should give it shape.


I’ll describe this process with my own personal experience.





With New Give My Regards to Black Jack, I chose “an organ transplant between two unrelated people” as my theme.


This is a continuation of Give My Regards to Black Jack, which ended abruptly, so the main theme of the medical world had already been decided. The reason it had stopped so abruptly is because I didn’t agree with my editor on the writing conditions or how to continue the manga. When it was being serialized, the editors continually acted extremely unreasonable (at least to me), so I started to feel like I would have to change my working conditions in order to keep going.


I thought about switching magazines, but at that point, I could no longer get help from any editors. First, I thought “I’ve already drawn something about neonatal care, cancer, and psychological care, so I think I want to do organ transplants next. The harmful side effects of drugs could also be an interesting theme,” I thought.


So I started collecting books. It’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself when you start out. I ended up buying about twenty books from Amazon about organ transplants, medical disasters, and HIV infection through medical care. I didn’t really put any limits on my data at that point.


I read the books over several weeks and learned about organ transplants, live transplants (from live family members and couples) as well as the fact that brain dead transplants existed. (I didn’t even know about that when I started out.) Then I got some more books on brain death and brain transplants and started reading those.


Even if I decided to make the overall manga about brain death and organ transplants, I also thought it’d be nice to create a two or three-part bridge chapter to link the two series, so I also started reading books about urology. The stories about STDs and phimosis were interesting, and I thought I might be able to use them for something.


As I read books about transplants and urology, I learned that urologists also deal with kidneys, and also that kidney transplants were the most common organ transplants made.


In other words, I could make the urology department the stage of my organ transplant drama. This is probably obvious to anyone who knows a little about medicine, but I was a serious amateur when I started.


Gradually, I got more interested, especially in the medical disasters, so I took a trip to the court house. When I got there, I said to the person in the lobby, “I want to watch a court case about a medical disaster. Where should I go to do that?”


“If it’s your first time watching one, I’d recommend watching a pharmaceutical one,” he said.


He went on to explain that watching a pharmaceutical case would teach me how court cases ran, so I’d be able to better follow a medical case after that. I did as he said, and ended up watching a pharmaceutical case, a rape case, and then a medical disaster case in that order. They were all very interesting, but I couldn’t think of a way to get the main character involved in a court case, so I started to move back toward organ transplants.


Now, the question was whether to focus on a brain dead transplant or a live transplant. With brain dead patients, there’s always the problem of how to take care of the body. It seemed very dramatic to me. With live transplants, it seemed simpler (?) and would allow me to depict the complicated relationship between the donor and the patient. When I did further investigation of transplants for people with kidney-related illnesses, I found that most of them had diabetes, and that many of them did dialysis prior to the transplants. In addition to books, I also used the internet to research this.


In the end, here’s what I came up with: “Next, the main character will go to do a term at the urology department. There, he’ll perform a live kidney transplant for a patient who has diabetes and is doing dialysis.”


There are two types of Diabetes: I and II. I is the kind of diabetes that children get, and we still don’t know why this happens. By this point, I had read about 50 books. As I read them all, I was constantly thinking about what it was I wanted to express.


At the same time, I was also struggling with my own ego. Because of personal reasons, I had cut off my serialization, so I was making all my readers wait to find out what would happen next. I also had no income, and no insurance for any kind of future with my career. Sometimes, it scared me to realize that I somehow had the energy to write a continuation despite all this, but I knew that if I didn’t, I would never be able to go on drawing manga.


If I accepted the unreasonableness and let people do what they wanted with me, then my manga would cease to be my manga. In order to keep drawing your own manga, you need to be selfish. If you stop being selfish even for a second, the manga ceases to be yours, and you can no longer fulfill your responsibilities to your readers. So, in order to deliver the true end of this tale to my readers, I knew that I had to keep being selfish. But is that really the right thing to do, even when it means that my series will be canceled? I knew that I needed to abandon my ego, but at the same time, I knew that abandoning it would make it impossible for me to go on drawing my own manga.


Could that mental battle be something I could express in my manga? How could I connect it with transplant medicine?


Then, I remembered a novel by Ariyoshi Sawako that I had read once. It was called “The Doctor’s Wife.” It was a story about a doctor in the Tokugawa Era who was the first person in the world to succeed at surgery using general anesthesia. The more he tried to develop his anesthesia medicine, the more his wife and mother competed with each other by throwing themselves at him as guinea pigs, in that primitive medical setting. It was really something, and left a significant impression on me.


“Next, the main character will go to do a term at the urology department. There, he’ll perform a live kidney transplant for a patient who has diabetes and is doing dialysis. The patient is a friend of the main character’s, and has been suffering from Type I Diabetes since she was a child. The main character thinks of donating his own organ to her, but multiple ethical standards stand in his way. He still tries to do it, but at that point, is it simply his own ego forcing him to do so? Or is transplant medicine truly wrong?”


With that, I had created the prototype to what I wanted to convey.


Next time, we’ll discuss data collecting in more detail.


Secrets of Manga #12 – How to Create Something to Convey, Part 1

This is Secrets of Manga #12.


Up until now, we’ve talked about panel composition and story. What I always keep repeating is basically “Convey to your readers what you want to convey, how you want to convey it.” I introduced some story creation and composition techniques that can help you do this, but they’re only several of many other theories.


Methods are only paths to achieving a goal. In order to convey something, first you need to have something you wish to convey.


If there’s nothing you want to say, then you’ll never be able to convey anything to your readers. You have to have something you want to convey. Manga exists as a medium to express these things, and that’s why we have things like panel and story composition. Technique alone is just technique.


So, how do you know what it is you wish to convey?


Maybe you’re anti-war, or you want to convey some sort of political message, or you want to question the meaning of life. Exaggerated messages like those aren’t the only things you can convey, though.


I don’t believe that all manga has to have a message. Maybe some authors just want to say “Isn’t this heroine cute?” or “I think this sort of thing is really cool.” If the readers who finish their manga think “This heroine is so cute!” or “This is really cool,” then I suppose those authors have succeeded. If you read it and think “I understand that the author thinks this is really cute (or cool), but I don’t think it is,” then you’re still giving feedback, I think.


I did an experiment and searched for feedback in regards to Tokko Island on Twitter.


“Tokko Island is amazing… how can you draw a manga like this? I love Sekiguchi… he’s a real man. I can’t stop crying. I hate war!” 


“I read Tokko Island by Sato Shuho. It’s so intense. It’s the memories of all the people who have risked their lives to protect our country. Everyone’s so young. Just when they were deciding what to do with their lives, death was thrust upon them. Their desires to protect their families and their country are passionately written in their wills. It’s not about whether or not they can to protect them, but the fact that they want to.”


“Sato Shuho-san’s manga is so detailed, I feel like reading it over and over again. Every time I do, it makes me think. His honesty and careful expressions make the reader more and more curious to explore the depth in his work.”


“I started reading Tokko Island, and now I can’t stop thinking about the special attack squad.”


“Tokko Island is a manga about reasons. It isn’t simply about war or everyday comparisons, it’s about something like ‘I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of not dying like a man.'”


“Whenever I read Tokko Island I dive right into it.”


Everyone’s really taking away a lot of different messages from it, some that I didn’t even intend in the first place. Once a message is conveyed to someone, it seems to get influenced by their own feelings and memories.


Originally, I never really had anything I wanted to say. This may seem to contradict everything I just wrote, but I have an excuse. I just can’t figure out how to put it into words. Anyway, I’ve always wanted to draw manga. And I want to draw manga that moves people. I’m always thinking about what moves people. When I’m at work, or at home, and I’m having fun or getting irritated, I think “I want to show my readers how this feels,” or “I might be able to put this into a manga.” Gradually, those feelings build up inside me and create a manga.


What I want to talk about now is “how to find something you want to convey.”


Just as a warning, I’m about to get a bit technical again. I think that there are a great number of people out there who want to draw manga but don’t know what to draw and an equally great number of people who have something they want to draw but can’t quite give it shape. It’d be great if readers could understand that mangaka don’t always have a strong image of what it is they want to express.


Tokko Island began when an editor came to me with a job offer, and I asked him, “As an editor, what kind of manga do you want to work on?”


My first step was to mix in something I wasn’t interested in or hadn’t thought of before. My editor answered that he wanted to do a story about a suicide attack squad, so I said, “Alright, let’s go with that,” went out to gather materials, and started reading them.


I feel like I’m a cook. I make delicious food with the ingredients I’m given. There really isn’t anything in particular I want to make. Most of the time, I just mix in a little of what I personally want to say and then work to make it into something.


I read about ten documents, searched for information on the internet, watched a few movies and read a few novels about suicide squads, visited the Yasukuni Shrine, an old naval base, a naval museum, an old soldier school on Eta Island, and training facilities on Otsu Island. I also met with people who had served as suicide squad soldiers, listened to their stories, and rode in a submarine. It gave me a lot of questions, so I ended up going back out to gather more material. Since it’s never clear to me what I want to say, I always have to go out to do research several times.


I throw away all my preconceptions when I do research. I find that if there’s something I want to draw, and I go out looking for the specific materials that will help me draw it, it only narrows my point of view. Instead, I just accept all the information that’s transmitted to me, widen my scope as much as possible, and then cut away all the excess.


After researching, I often end up with a lot of things I want to convey, so I try to find an opening somewhere to slip my own messages in.


As far as drawing manga goes, I believe that the work that goes into creating something you want to convey is the most important step. Next time, we’ll talk about this in more detail. Sorry this was so short, but that’s all I have for today.



Secrets of Manga #11 – How to Write a Story, Part 4

This is Secrets of Manga #11.


It’s been four weeks since we started replicating the process I go through from imagining the story to organizing it all in a storyboard. If you’re one of the people screaming “I already forgot what you told us in the beginning!” then please use the categories on the right to review the previous installments.


Here’s the storyboard that we’ve been using. Tokko Island #25.


Last time, we left off at Page 13.


On the deck of their battle-scarred ship, the main character prepares to quit the war, and the captain begins to speak of two miracles that happened. The first was that they came back alive from a very desperate situation, and the second is that the suicide torpedo survived unscathed. My plan from this point onward is to have the captain proclaim that they will continue fighting and have the main character regain his will to fight.


So, how did it turn out?


I’ve built up enough suspense, so here I have the captain make his proclamation. It’d be strange here if the main character heard this and immediately regained his will to fight. So I put in a pause, and then make the captain ask him a question. Doing it this way is smoother and saves page space.


In the first panel, I show how the character feels at being put on the spot. I need him to regain his will to fight, so I put in a pause here so that he can effectively convey his feelings. If another character answered the captain while he was thinking, it’d break the tension, so I have them all feel moved by the moment.


“What will his answer be?” With this question in the readers’ minds, the main character silently walks away. His surprising reaction makes you want to turn the page, doesn’t it? How the character reacts here is key. I know I’m going to make him go on fighting, it’s just a question of how I show him doing that.


After ignoring the captain’s question and walking away, the main character walks over to the suicide torpedo that his friend rode in. Scene changes are always smoothest when they’re done between the pages. First, I show it through the art, then have the main character explain the significance of the location.


The crew on deck watches the main character speak with his friend. This is the prologue to when they gather around him on the next page. That’s where he’ll answer the captain. Here, the expressionless main character suddenly bursts into tears, and we see his change in emotion through the silence. By drawing the crew watching the main character, I can naturally make the reader focus on him too.


On the next page, the crew surrounds the main character. I changed the scene again here with the page turn, and I think I was able to skip the time they spent gathering around him without any awkwardness. Now I’ve finally got through the “crew surrounding the main character and hearing his decision” part that I planned earlier.  The main character speaks to the boot his friend left behind. Now I’ve also succeeded in using it as a momento. All the little side plots have come together, and the main character announces that he will go on fighting.


Hearing this, the captain walks in front of the crew and announces that they will continue operations. He’s accepted the main character’s will, so this announcement is directed at the rest of the crew. This happens in the same spot, but it’s the captain’s part, so I changed scenes again with this new page.


On the last page, we have a long shot of everyone uniting on the ship now that they’ve made their decision. The waves are rough, symbolizing strength.


Well, there you have it. Do you think succeeded in depicting the change as the main character overcomes his depression and regains his will to fight? If I was able to make this relatively uneventful chapter exciting, then my plan was a success. It may sound like I’m bragging, but I think it’s rather difficult to make twenty pages of “a main character in despair gets re-energized” interesting to read.


In a way, it’s easy to to write fun scenes. In order to write comparatively boring scenes, you need to utilize side plots and set the foundation for the later scenes to be really exciting. Here, you need to think up lots of tricks and make sure the story continues smoothly and naturally.


All the scenes in the stories you read were put there for a specific reason. The authors are just making it seem like they weren’t.


Now, that concludes our discussion on story. This is pretty much all I think about when I draw manga. I just keep using the same tricks over and over again. Next time, we’ll review this section.



Secrets of Manga #10 – How to Write a Story, Part 3

It’s time for Secrets of Manga #10.


Today we’re going to continue from where we left off last time and discuss  my story writing process while looking at a storyboard.


We’ll be using the same storyboard: Tokko Island #25.


Last time I explained up to page 5. Before I drew the storyboard, I decided the following things.


1. This chapter is a “break” from the action of the battle that came before it.


2. This chapter shows a mental change where the main character, depressed from losing his close friend, regains his will to fight.


3. This chapter depicts a soldier who’s prepared to die in a suicide attack, just like his friend was, as a human, and yet is still shocked by death, highlighting the strangeness of the human condition and the sad decision to choose suicide in order to exact vengeance for a friend’s death.


Once I know what I want to draw, I imagine each part in my head. Last time, I described the sub battle ending, and the damaged sub sailing through the morning fog into an allied base in order to be repaired. The main character is depressed about losing his friend. While the rest of the soldiers are sleeping, he’s unable to, and gazes at his friend’s empty bed.


Here’s what I did with that segment.


First, I always think about the elements that will form the foundation for the story. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. After I’ve answered those questions, I can start imagining.


Did the friend leave something behind?


If so, then what did he leave?


His leg was broken, so he should have left a boot behind.


Looks like I may be able to use the spare boot somewhere.


Ah, that’s right.


I was planning to use the boot as a momento.


I’ll make this panel a close-up on the boot, then.


And by drawing the main character looking at it, I’ll be able to express his empty feeling without having to use any dialog.


Looks like I’ll be able to write a lot with just this alone.


Now, what should I do next?


I need to make some kind of incident happen. (It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic.)


Here, I’m usually faced with a choice. I can either make the main character active, and make this incident the direct result of his actions, or I can make him passive, and just make something happen to him. If I went the passive route, I could have the captain call him out. I can think of ten possible routes right off the top of my head now.


The main character is depressed, so it’ll take time for him to become active again. Having someone call him out seems more natural, and it’ll help me save time page-wise.


At this point, I also realize that I haven’t been able to give the readers a decent glimpse of all the damage the sub has suffered. But I feel like using any more pages for explanation would just bore the readers.


I decide to make one of his fellow soldiers come and call him. Here, I’ll have him walk up onto the deck and here the captain proclaiming that they’ll continue fighting. Once he gets on the deck, I’ll also be able to show how damaged the ship is. However, I feel that just hearing the captain’s proclamation still isn’t enough to warrant a change. Depressed -> Proclamation -> Energized doesn’t seem real enough to me. One of the main character’s comrades brought him on deck, so it’s not like the main character’s intentionally trying to cheer himself up. I need something else to shake him. What about if when the captain starts talking, he expects that they’re going to quit the war? There needs to be some sort of gap in order to light a spark with his suppressed emotions. I’ll draw the main character and the captain together and make it seem like they’ll quit the war, but then have the captain proclaim that they’ll go on fighting. Then, feeling his passion rise up again, the main character will regain his will to fight.


Now I have a general image for how this chapter will flow. This will let me accomplish the second and third objectives that I originally came up with.


I express the situation with the first few pages, then stop and think about what will happen next. It’s like I give myself a situation and think about what the answer could be. I’m quizzing myself and forcing out an answer. This is one of the patterns I use when I write my storyboards.


I just keep thinking about how to express a restoration of willpower within the constraints of the setting without any inconsistencies. At these times, I’m usually rolling around on the floor or looking at porn on my computer, which might make you think that I’m a terrible person, but everything I just explained is what’s actually going on inside my head.


I drew the first five pages, stopped to think, then came up with the next part and drew page 6.


Well? Did the calmed-down main character change location in a natural manner?
On page 7, I show how badly the sub’s been damaged. I’ve already seen the images in my mind, so it takes me very little time to draw them.


On page 8, I explain the situation, then introduce the captain. He talks about the damage and starts a conversation.


On page 9, I make it clear where the four characters are standing and then insert a bird’s-eye view of the ship. In the last scene, I thought about making the main character declare his will to fight, and then I came up with the idea of the servicemen coming over to listen to him. If I drew in these side characters repairing the ship in the first eight pages, it’d make it easier for me to gather them around the main character here. The conversation continues from page 8, so I also put in a few blank panels here in order to break it up.


On page 10 the captain explains the devastated condition of the sub in order to make the readers think that they’ll quit the war. The main character stays gloomy.


Page 11. The soldiers prepare to quit the war, and the captain says “two miracles happened.” After this, I plan to have the captain proclaim that they’ll continue fighting, so I put the word “miracle” in on purpose. Here, I’m trying to create drama by surprising the readers (or answering their expectations) and having the captain force the soldiers to keep fighting in this depressing situation. It’s depressing, but (a miracle happened, so) they’ll do their best. He talks about the first miracle, but we have to turn the page to read about the next one.


In the first panel on this page, he reveals the second miracle: the suicide torpedo survived the fierce battle unscathed.


On page 13, I compare the unscathed torpedo with the devastated battleship.


Looks like I ended up writing too much again. We’ll conclude this next time.